Every now and then something really special happens in our industry. Something soooo rare that even sceptics would muster up the strength and take a look in order to indulge their curiosity.
Something so rare where usually the doors are slammed tight behind a wall of secrecy; the curtain is dropped for just a moment.
So rare that this goliath industry leader at the top of their game opens itself up to the fascinated gazes of awe inspired window cleaners. Window cleaners that have travelled from all over the UK. No, I am not talking about Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory and there isn’t a golden ticket insight, but something like that, maybe.
Last week Ionic Systems in Swindon opened their doors to the public. Attendees numbering shy of 50 throughout the day were treated to demonstrations of the new hyCLEANER, a robotic machine used for cleaning large building areas, water fed pole and machine demos, a seminar with guest speaker and a tour of the Ionic plant that included exhibits such as an original crash tested Ionic System and the robotic solar panel cleaner.
Unfortunately for me, I missed the hyCLEANER demos. Reuben Reynolds, Director of Ionic Systems and Charlie Price, the Big Cheese over at Price Group introduced the demonstrations. Well let’s face it, with Price Group providing half a million quid of Bronto Skylift truck-mounted platform on site, who better to keep an eye on it!
I entered the head office of Ionic Systems and I was lead to the tail end of the factory tour. (I would be treated to my very own private tour later in the day. Check out my factory tour blog).
Meanwhile, window cleaners gathered like eager students as they surrounded a factory worker demonstrating how water fed poles are made and put together. Both the factory worker and Reuben Reynolds appear well rehearsed delivering funny punch lines amongst the vast amount of production knowledge bestowed upon their audience. There were lots of questions asked, lots answered and lots learned…. It must of felt like living in a fishbowl for the factory workers but actually they enjoyed telling others about the job they do as they took centre stage.
Outside the building the full range of water fed poles and machines were available for demonstrations and the Zero static option got a flurry of interest. This was mainly down to the makeup of visitors with a few running larger fleets of window cleaning vans. Interestingly this group showed more interest in Ionic than the Pure2o ranges.
One or two window cleaners recognised myself from the Window Cleaning Magazine and YouTube and so it was nice to chat shop with those guys. For me and the other attendees the seminar was something we were all looking forward to.
Sarah Richards of Alexander Swan Insurance Services, the Guest Speaker of the day, gave a free flowing talk on protecting your business… and the attendees asked lots of great questions.
The main attraction, however, had to be Developing Your Window Cleaning Business with BWCA Founder and Ionic Systems’ Chairman, Craig Mawlam.
Opening up, Craig looked very casual as he announced ‘profit ensures cash flow and cash flow is king’. Straight away you could see that Craig still had that passion for the industry. That passion that has brought him so far from the early days when he was known as The Window Man cleaning residential windows. Touching briefly on his early window cleaning days the general theme was on CHANGE and how to market the change. ‘Changes could come from regulations, economy, the housing market anywhere and marketing that change effectively = opportunity’, Craig says (paraphrased).
The seminar was insightful and motivational, there is nothing like listening to the thoughts of a man now running a multi million pound business who has once stood in YOUR shoes.
Keeping with CHANGE, he was current too, citing Brexit as a possible ‘change’ indicator for business and he used it as an example as to where opportunity may come from in the form of Government or private investment, CHANGE = OPPORTUNITY.
Of course the best example for this, Craig mentioned, was Ionic Systems having the right product at the right time as the Working at Heights 2005 Regs came into force. New regulations meant that business owners were to avoid working at height wherever possible and choose alternative methods if they were available. To you and me that was Ladders Vs Water Fed Poles. And the rest as they say is history. Ionic Systems lead the way with pure water window cleaning and became the leaders of our industry.
CHANGE = OPPORTUNITY quickly moved to USP (Unique Selling Point) something that every business should try and find avoiding that ‘me too’ trap, but as Craig points out USP has a short shelf life and re-inventing yourself is the key.
‘It goes without saying that some things do not change such as quality over price’; Craig tells his audience, ‘and Experts are always in demand’.
During the talk it was announced that Ionic Systems would roll out a new support service for its customers called The Reach & Wash Support Service. This is so new that costs and things like T&C’s have not yet been finalised!
This is a very clever idea and the timing could not be better. Essentially, available for hire would be the hyCLEANER but also something very lacking in the industry today.
As it stands today the only way you can hire a van with a full pure water system in the back is via an insurance claim and even then only a small selected group of insurance brokers such as Alexander Swan provide this.
Imagine if you land that huge job and they wanted it doing yesterday, or if your van breaks down and those time sensitive jobs you had booked in next week were at risk of not getting done, now you can hire a complete van and system with a professional window cleaner. You just order it in, the hired van and worker turns up to the location you want them to be at. Simple. The day is saved!
This new service helps add that professional punch to your website too. Ionic will provide its customers free pictures and information showing that they have hyCLEANER and Rope Access capability. The Rope Access is to be sub supported by Price Group.
Fantastic ideas, fantastic day (with a catering van by the way) and a great turn out.
Reuben Reynolds, Director, Ionic Systems, “It was pretty good for our first event. And we see this as a successful day. We have already planned another one with speakers for the Spring of 2017. This will also coincide with our 20th Anniversary.”
We look forward to that! Window Cleaning Magazine will be celebrating that one with them too.